Alliums are common in most diets, and have been staples for flavoring for centuries. Alliums, a genus of flowering plants including onions, garlic, scallions, leeks, shallots and chives, are not only high in flavor, they’re also high in a variety of nutrients and health benefits.
These tasty plants are easy to add to your meals (more tips below), which is great, because for many of us, meals don’t seem complete without onions or garlic mixed in. Here are some of the top health benefits of alliums and how to get more of them into your diet.
The first thing you should know about the health benefits of alliums is that these flowering plants are chock full of organosulfur compounds. These sulfur-rich molecules are important for a number of reasons, but one of the foremost is that they may help with detoxification.
Sulfur is a natural component of the body’s detoxification process, so it’s vital to get this nutrient into your diet to help promote healthy detoxification.
Another benefit of sulfur is that it may help protect against cancer. One study examined peoples’ consumption of allium vegetables throughout their lives, and found that those who consumed more alliums had a lower risk of cancer. There are many reasons why this could be, including the plants’ antioxidant content and its ability to fight inflammation.
Alliums are high in glutathione, an important nutrient that protects the body from cellular damage.
“Glutathione is a ‘glycoprotein,’ or a protein molecule with a sugar molecule attached to it, which is needed by every cell in your body, and like copper, almost everyone is deficient in it,” reports Organic Lifestyle Magazine. “It boosts immunity, lowers your risk of heart attack, helps detoxify the body, is anti-cancer, anti-diabetes, etc…”
GOOD FOR HEART HEALTH
All of these nutrients and health properties also have another effect: Protecting heart health. Studies have shown that garlic and other alliums are great for the heart, with many scientists attributing this benefit to alliums’ organosulfur compounts.
HOW TO GET MORE ALLIUMS IN YOUR DIET
Alliums are so easy to add to your meals, you can really add them to anything. These are just a few of my favorite ways to eat alliums:
- Chop them and sprinkle them raw over salads.
- Sautee with olive oil and drizzle over entrees.
- Stir into soups and stews.
- Add to sandwiches and wraps.
- Mix into pastas, stir frys and rice dishes.